News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th September 2005

Commencing

Forgotten Empire: The World Of Ancient Persia reveals the wealth and splendour of the largest empire the Ancient Near East ever saw, which stretched from North Africa to the Indus Valley and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, between 550 and 330 BC. The power of its Great Kings is reflected in statues and iconic objects of rulers Darius, Cyrus and Xerxes. The awe-inspiring scale of the palaces at Persepolis and Susa is suggested by monumental architectural pieces, including ornate carved stone slabs depicting Ancient Persian priests, servants and tributaries, and a 12ft high column from Persepolis, topped by a fearsome bull capital. The immense wealth of the empire is revealed in lavish tableware, including intricately carved gold and silver bowls, horn shaped drinking cups and polished stone trays, jewellery from the imperial capitals at Pasargadae and Susa, together with examples of ornate gold grave goods. The exhibition examines the innovations of the Persian kings, which helped to control their empire, including a system of devolved administration and government, a complex road network and an imperial postal service that ran from Sardis to Susa. The expansion of the empire is illustrated through objects that are witness to the interface with its distant corners such as Egypt, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Greece. The legacy of the Persian kings is examined with the famous Cyrus Cylinder, sometimes referred to as the first declaration of human rights because of its reference to religious toleration. British Museum until 8th January.

Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics and low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket.

The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include a History Of The Illuminations exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan and 'A cow attempts to deceive a butcher by pretending to be a fairground attraction', a full size cow covered in 540 fairground lights that puts on an animated show; 'Bajra', a 135,000 bulb illuminated peacock from India, designed by Nandita Palchoudhuri; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 6th November.

Bodies And Antibodies: Paul Tecklenberg is a series of new works that draw upon the aesthetics of x-rays, microbiology and brain scans. Tecklenberg uses the old fashioned photographic technique called the photogram, which is based on shining light through real objects placed in front of light sensitive paper, to record their negative photographic silhouettes. This process captures the exact shape and density of the subject, just like an x-ray. The effect is shadowy and ghostly in atmosphere, yet the detail is beautifully accurate. This two part exhibition includes a site specific installation in the Laundry Room at Wollaton Hall, where Tecklenberg has concentrated on 'beneath the stairs activities'. To interpret this, he has used clothing to create images that have an eerie quality about them. They are life size and seem to have a human presence, and each has a name such as Agatha and Hildagarde. The images evoke a wide spectrum of thoughts: ghosts, Miss Haversham, sensuality, illicit affairs, improper relationships - and just clothing hanging up to dry. The Yard Gallery, Wollaton Hall and Park, Nottingham until 23rd October.

Continuing

Hans Christian Andersen is an exhibition marking the bicentenary of the Danish children's writer, which reveals the underlying themes in his stories. Using clues provided by some of his best known characters, it explores the dark side of his life as well as the innocence of his vision. Much of Andersen's writing reflects his own story: The Ugly Duckling - his own life journey; The Little Mermaid - his interest in the supernatural and immortality; The Little Match Girl - his belief in the innocence of children; and The Tin Soldier - his feelings about women and the unobtainable. Interactive exhibits complement the more traditional historical material to mix word and play, reality and magic. Within a soundscape inspired by Andersen's stories, puppets, pulleys, projections and paper-cuts bring his characters to life. Visitors can perform their own fairytales, go under water with the Little Mermaid and find the Snow Queen. Among the materials on show are original manuscripts and early editions of his books; Andersen's own letters, drawings, paintings and photographs; ballet costumes from the Royal Opera House; illustrations from across the decades reflecting the changing times; and an extract from a film of The Little Match Seller, directed by British cinema pioneer James Williamson in 1902. The exhibition is designed and animated in collaboration with the pioneering young people's theatre company theatre-rites, which specialises in the fusion of performance, puppetry, installation art, video and sound. The British Library until 2nd October.

Sequences explores the origins of the moving image, from the first magic lantern slide shows to new media flip books, from Marey to the Matrix in a two venue exhibition. For a century chronophotography, the sequentail replaying of still images to create movement, has been in the shadow of cinema, but it is now emerging once again in post cinema practices and digital media.

At Q Arts, contemporary artists explore the technique, including 'Time Slice' photography's original pioneer, Tim MacMillan, alongside his original time-slice camera; Andrew Davidhazy with 'Shotgun Blast', tracing a bullet on its journey from gun to wall; and Tess Glanville's 'Time Piece', in which light pouring into the room is traced onto walls and floors to mark the passage of time. Among the other artists whose work is featured are Paul St George, Pia Jonsson. Andrea Polli, Bjorn Schulke, Rufus Butler Seder, Simon Lewandowski and Patrick Tarrant.

Chronophotography was pioneered by the forefathers of cinema, Lumiere, Reynaud, Muybridge and Marey. Artefacts from their work, together with all manor of illusionistic inventions, such as the Magic Lantern, kaleidoscope, panorama, Phantasmagoria, Stereoscope amd Zoopraxinoscope are on display in the accompanying exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery.

Q Arts Gallery and Derby Museum and Art Gallery until 2nd October.

Gaugin's Vision brings together works by the Post Impressionist Gauguin, his immediate mentors such as Edgar Degas and Camille Pissaro, painters he admired including Paul Cezanne and Gustave Moreau, and his younger contemporaries, Emile Bernard, Charles Laval, Louis Anquetin, Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis. Gauguin's 'Vision of the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel', one of the best known and most reproduced paintings in the world, was a turning point in the history of art. It depicts the vision of devout Breton women who literally 'see' the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel, the subject just preached to them by their priest. The painting is unusual not only for employing such a rich and strong colour palette, but also for telling a story - unheard of in avant-garde art of the time. This exhibition brings together 84 works, including Emile Bernard's remarkably similar 'Breton Women in a Meadow', painted only a week or two before Gauguin's. It offers a chance to understand 'Vision' in a rich context, exploring the biographical, pictorial and cultural circumstances that enabled Gauguin to make such a radical statement in paint in 1888. The exhibition encompasses not only paintings, but letters, drawings, fans, Japanese wood block prints, book illustrations, ceramics and furniture. The Breton theme is explored through prints, books, photographs and even period costumes. This is the first time a concentrated exhibition has been devoted to this arresting and complex painting, to its stylistic and thematic origins, critical impact and history. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 2nd October.

The Stuff Of Life is an exhibition of still lifes from the 16th century to the present day, showing how everyday items and interiors have inspired artists. It focuses on the depiction and meaning of objects in art, where even the most ordinary objects can carry the most extraordinary significance. The inclusion of objects in portraits can suggest the interests and achievements of their subjects or act as attributes to identify a saint or hero. Van Gogh's 'Chair' with its pipe and tobacco pouch is a disguised self portrait; the spare still life of a rose, cup of water and silver plate by the Spanish painter Zurbaran can be read as an image of the Virgin Mary; while Peter Blake's collection of miniature alcohol bottles stands as a symbolic portrait of Damien Hirst. As this exhibition shows, objects in paintings always suggest some meaning, whether derived from their use, appearance and context, or their symbolic resonance. Also included in this show are many extraordinary demonstrations of painterly skill. In both Van Mieris's 'A Woman and a Fish-pedlar in a Kitchen' and Steenwyck's 'Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life', no brushstroke is visible and the different textures of fur, feathers, fish, cloth, metal and glass are miraculously rendered. Some paintings mimic reality itself, such as 'The Old Cupboard Door' by the 19th century American artist William Harnett, perhaps the greatest trompe l'oeil painting in Britain, as well as Gavin Turk's contemporary 'Bag', a perfectly rendered and painted bronze cast of a black bin bag. National Gallery until 2nd October.

The Mating Game examines some of the most bizarre and beautiful courtship behaviours found in the animal world. The exhibition looks at the different senses animals use to locate a mate, and the methods they employ to win them over, from colour and sound, to unusual acrobatics and gift giving. It uses real animal specimens and 'interactives' - where visitors can guess the animal by the smell and sound it produces. Animals that live over a wide area rely on sound to find a mate. Male and female elephants live independently for most of their adult lives, so females emit a series of powerful low-pitched calls, which can be heard up to four kilometres away. Whales also communicate over huge distances, and the song of the humpbacked whale can be heard underwater hundreds of kilometres away. Lasting up to 30 minutes, it is the longest and most complex song known in the animal world. Sight is frequently used to attract and identify potential mates and colourful displays are most dramatically seen among fish, reptiles and birds. Although most mammals rely on smell and are less colourful, the male mandrill, a type of baboon, is a notable exception, with blue and red markings on the body of the most dominant male, which attracts females and repels junior males. Other animals resort to bribery in order to attract a mate, by giving gifts. A male tern starts his courtship by bringing the female a small fish, held crosswise in his beak, demonstrating his ability to provide for her and for their future offspring. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 27th November.

Henri Cartier-Bresson is the largest and most comprehensive retrospective of work by the legendary French photographer ever staged in Britain, featuring over 200 photographs. Cartier-Bresson had an early passion for Surrealism, and in the 1920s trained as a painter. He began taking photographs as a hobby in Africa in 1931, continuing on his return to Europe, before travelling to New York and Mexico, and from the mid 1930s began to be exhibited and published. A reticent figure who craved anonymity, he never staged photographs, instead he waited for what he famously called the 'decisive moment', when the click of the camera captures a moment of unexpected drama. This technique even applied in his portraits, with spontaneous pictures of Arthur Miller, Francis Bacon, Pierre-August Renoir, Samuel Beckett, Henri Matisse and Jean-Paul Sartre. Cartier-Bresson was a great photojournalist, covering many seminal events of 20th century history, including the Spanish Civil War, the liberation of Paris, and Mao's takeover of Beijing. However, it was in his capturing of the minutiae of everyday life, such as the man leaping over a huge puddle behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, revealing the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary, which made him one of the most influential photographers of the century. A selection of Cartier-Bresson's drawings from the 1970s and 1980s is also included in the exhibition, alongside scrapbooks, original books and reviews, and photographs of Cartier-Bresson taken by friends, together with his beloved Leica camera. Dean Gallery Edinburgh until 23rd October.

Concluding

Joshua Reynolds: The Creation Of Celebrity looks at Reynolds not just as a portraitist, but also an impresario and influential figure in society, rather than simply providing a general survey of his work. The exhibition brings together a selection of the greatest portraits by Reynolds, many of them depicting the most famous men and women of the eighteenth century, such as the writer Samuel Johnson, the actress Mrs Siddons, the political philosopher Edmund Burke, the actor David Garrick, the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brindlsey Sheridan, the politician Charles James Fox, the Prince of Wales and Omai, the Tahitian prince who charmed London society, as well as courtesans, aristocrats and military and naval heroes. Collectively, they represented the cream of British society of the era. But Reynolds did not simply paint these individuals, he befriended them, brought them into contact with one another, and shaped their public images - not to mention his own. Indeed, one room in the exhibition is dedicated to Reynolds self-portraits, twenty-seven different works painted over a period of nearly half a century, continually refining his image. As a result, during his lifetime Reynolds was among the most celebrated artists in western Europe, and became the first president of the Royal Academy. In addition to paintings, the exhibition includes prints, caricatures and sculpture, comprising around ninety works in all. Tate Britain until 18th September.

Salvator Rosa: Wild Landscapes features the work of the 17th century Neapolitan artist, whose landscapes, with their dramatic lighting and elemental locations, set a precedent for the 'sublime' in landscape painting. Many of his works have a mysterious, often violent quality that seems to reflect something of his character, which was said to be combative and melancholy. Rosa was almost as well known for his personality as for his art, and he became a cult figure, often referred to in poems and treatises. He created a significant new form of landscape painting, which often formed backdrops for scenes from classical mythology and contemporary folklore, where the turbulent and ferocious energy of nature was expressed with a sense of awe. In the darkness of his forests, witches are plotting murderous crimes, demons are devouring babies, and skeletons and devils await the arrival of innocent mortals. The exhibition explores the wild nature of Rosa's landscapes through over 40 paintings, drawings and etchings, including 'River Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sybil', 'Landscape with Mercury and the Dishonest Woodman', 'Self-Portrait', 'Empedocles Leaping into Etna' and 'Jacob's Dream'. Also shown alongside, are prints and drawings by his 18th century British followers J H Mortimer and J Goupy. The Wallace Collection, London until 18th September.

Max Klinger showcases the work of one of the most inventive artists of the 19th century, the major part of whose artistic output was etchings. Klinger believed that this work, drawn and without colour, was more effective in conveying figments of the imagination than painting, which he considered to be too realistic. This exhibition comprises five series of Klinger's etchings, principally 'The Glove', consisting of ten etchings featuring a glove. First it makes its appearance at a roller-skating rink, being worn and then dropped by an elegant woman. Then it becomes the crucial motif for various dream and nightmare scenarios - in a bedroom merged with an ominous symbolic landscape, tossed about on a stormy sea, carried away by a winged monster, lying under a wilting rose next to a small cupid-like figure and so on. The other four series also combine scenes of everyday life with flights into realms of extraordinary imagination and fantasy. They postulate that at any moment gaps might open up in our daily routines, plunging us into unfamiliar and uncontrollable circumstances, sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful and dark. To coincide with this exhibition, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is exhibiting Klinger's 'On Death (Part II)', a sequence of etchings that reveal him at the height of his powers as a draughtsman and visual narrator, obsessively interested in the theme of death; and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is showing a selection of work by Klinger and other nineteenth century German artists. Ikon, and other galleries, Birmingham, all until 18th September.